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David Orentlicher Education. (2013) 'Two Presidents are Better Than One The Case for a Bipartisan Executive Branch.'




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  CSPAN    Book TV    David Orentlicher  Education.  (2013) 'Two Presidents are  
   Better Than One The Case for a Bipartisan Executive Branch.'  

    April 28, 2013
    3:00 - 4:16pm EDT  

as you never do, whether it's going to be the incumbent or someone new. in some cases it's going to be someone new no matter what. and so what we did was we tried to sign up books that were very practical and talking about what people needed to do to survive and thrive kind of no matter who was in charge. and then we knew that once the election was over, we would pivot one way or the other in the positioning of the book and even the titling of the book or the subtitling of the book depending on who won. ..
>> i began my thinking about two presidents as a state representative. i served in the indiana houston of representatives, and i was there for three terms, and like most candidates, when i first started running, i pledged to be bipartisan. i was going to work with my colleagues across the aisle and i would support good ideas, whether they were democratic or republican. and i tried very hard to do that. but i didn't find that it's
very -- found quickly it's very difficult to remain above the partisan fray, and i came to the conclusion we don't get partisan conflict in washington or in indianapolis because we elect people who are inclined to be partisan. there's not a selection bias here. the problem is, our system, our political system, drives elected officials to be partisan. so i thought about it -- i'm very madison union about this, how to structure behavior, and i thought what is it about our system that fuels partisan conflict. and i came to the idea i discuss in my book, the partisan conflict at the national level is driven largely by the fact we give all of the executive power to one person, a single person, rather than having the executive power diedded among multiple office holders. so i want to persuade you with
two points. the seeds for political different function started when the found fathers chose a single person, and to change to a two-party presidency in which the two presidents are true equals and come from different parties. ordinarily that would be democratic and republican but third-party candidates would be eligible and more likely we would get third-party candidates because it's easier to run second than first in our country. so, before i make my argument about why a single president is bad and two presidents are good, what do i mean by a two-person bipartisan presidency? and the two presidents have to be equal partners. that's very important. so if a bill passed congress both would have to sign before it would become law. they would have to agree on executive orders, supreme court nominees, decisions as commanders in chief of the
military. they each would have their own vice president for succession and a small personal staff, but all other appointments, whether executive branch or judiciary, would be single joint appointee, and with that they can position -- fill positions quickly. instead of a democrat nominating a democratic person or republican with a republican, you would have a bipartisan nominee, and there wouldn't be incentive to delay or confirmation. the positions should be filled more quickly in all likelihood they would divide up primary responsibility. one might direct health care, the other education, one might focus on relations with european countries, this -- the other with asian countries, but all decisions have to be shared decisions. and joint decisionmaking would make for more representative
decisionmaking. instead of having the republican championing their platform, for a democratic president pressing the policies of the democratic party, we would have presidential partners, advocating policies that represent the views of the full range of voters. so, how do we -- i said, political dysfunction, we can trace to the single presidency. isn't congress the problem? senators and representatives can't pass bills to balance our budget, they can't do anything about global warming or gun violence. even back on march 1st when they were faced with the sequester and the harsh budget cuts, that couldn't even get them to agree on a sensible budget reduction plan. so i think if we focus on congress or focus on the symptoms rather than the causes of the problem. as i said the problem of the causes are a result of the --
the founding fathers' decision to place a single executive atop the executive branch, a single president. why is having a single president a problem? what's wrong with that? well, i'll talk about what the framers thought, but what happened is modern presidents exercise an exceptional amount of power. what arthur she was called an imperial presidency, and because presidents wield immense power on behalf of one party they feel the high levels of partisan conflict in washington, and because they exercise their immense power on behalf of only one perspective they make too many decisions that are detrimental to the national interest. so let me talk about how we got to this imperial presidency and then why it causes problems. the founding fathers, of course, worried about cabin power, different branches becoming too
powerful but they didn't protect against the imperial presidency because they didn't anticipate the executive role would play in our government. the framers worried about the legislative branch and congress would dominate. so when they wrote the constitution, that was what they were -- the concern, too powerful congress so they took steps to avoid legislative dominance. they gave the president a veto, and so on. but they misjudged things. my wife says i shouldn't criticize the framers, but they did get this wrong. because over the past 75 years, congress has transferred much of its authority to the executive branch, the presidents have amfully identified their power transfers with power grabs. so we have the creation of the administrative state. all these agencies like the environmental protection agency, housing housing housing and urban development,
health and human services. and with the huge growth of the administrative state and departments and agencies, presidents have gained considerable and unanticipated domestic policymaking power. the president controls the issuing of regulations whether it's air quality, energy exploration, k through 12 education, health care, consumer protection, down the line, all these different concerns. rulemakeing is overseen by the president. finally, the rulemaking, presidents have other policymaking tools at their disposal so they can shape national policy through signing statements and executive orders and grant waivers from statutory obligations. so it's easy to find examples. president obama, under president obama's direction, without congress' participation, that we now have a doubling of fuel efficiency for cars, that will take effect between now and
2025. obama decided to expand offshore drilling for oil and gas. and granted lots of waivers to states from the requirements of the "no child left behind" statute. now morse of the -- now most of the central provisions they states are not responsibility, stem cell research, president bush said there would not be funding, president obama decided there would be. all decisions made by presidents. and this is just on the domestic side. on the foreign policy side, presidents have even more dominance. presidents play a far larger role in the determination of u.s. policy, and congress plays a far smaller role than the framers intended. so, recent illustration is when president obama decided that our military would be involved and intervene in libya was his decision. even though congress is supposed to decide when we send troops
into battle overseas, but obama, truman, clinton, many presidents, have decided on their own without waiting for congress. presidents also reach agreements with other countries without congressional participation unilaterally decide about term night treaties and recognizing taiwan as the government, president carter terminated the mutual defense pact with taiwan. presidents decision on the right to the u.s. citizens to travel abroad. when we were prevent from visiting cuba, that was presidential decision. also revised our immigration policy. when congress failed to pass the dream act to create a path for young immigrants, people brought here as children by their parents, president obama implemented his own dream act when he waived deport indication and said he would grant work permits to young immigrants.
now, it's not only -- so presidential powers increase, congress transferred power, presidents act it on their own. so there's been a shift of power. the other part of the piece of the puzzle is the vast expansion of u.s. power generally. the founders lived, the world powers were in europe. now the united states has become the great world power. so presidential power has increased, both because the u.s. powers increased dramatically, and the power that the u.s. government has, has been shifted from congress to the white house. so we no longer have the constitutional's designed for coequal branches of government. we now have politically dominant executive branch. so what do we do? many scholars say congress needs to assert itself, and use the checking balance of power. if congress served its rule we wouldn't have abuses like
watergate and abu grain. but congress has proved incapable of fulfilling its checking and balancing role and transferred much of their authority to the white house. scholars aren't worried about this. congress, they say -- look, congress can't act decisively or efficiently. may have made sense to have a powerful congress, or at least a coequal congress, but in a modern american state, global economy and fast-moving technology, we need a strong executive. now, i don't think we need to settle that debate, where whether should have a powerful executive or not, is not critical to my argument. even if the executive branch had not accumulated too much power, it's amassed too much power for one person. that's the problem. when one person exercises this
enormous power of the modern u.s. presidency, we shouldn't be surprised if the system breaks down. a single president represents the views of one political party. all of us, we all want to have a voice in our government. but only half the public has a meaningful input. right? currently we have a democratic president who represents the viewed of democratic voters. from 2001 to 2008 we had a republican president, who represented the views of republican voters. so, no wonder when you have one president from one party that -- the party out of power spends all of its time trying to regain the oval office and not enough of its time trying to address the country's needs. so under the current system, democrats and republicans fight tooth and nail every four years for the white house. hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars. once the election is over, the new cycle begins. the candidates start traveling
to new hampshire and iowa, and what happens in congress is the party of the president lines up behind the president's initiatives to bolster the president and make sure that it can retain the white house, and the losing party tries to block presidential initiatives so that they can weaken the white house, weaken the presidency, and then win it back in the next election. so you remember, when healthcare reform was being debated. former senator jim demint said you need to vote against obamacare. need to break the obama administration. senator mcconnell, the senate majority leader of the runs, announcing announcing in 2010 his highest priority as the senate majority leader was making barack obama a one-term president. now, if he had a coalition presidency where each party knew it would elect a partner, it
wouldn't stand to gain as much power through tactics. they would still share the white house with the other party. then it would be freer to judge legislative proposals. so to put it another way, when you have winner take all elections, for presidencies whose power has grown to the level of imperial presidency, we shouldn't be surprised if we have high levels of partisan conflict. i if you go back, the increase in partisan conflict, going back to the 50s and 60s, there was much more of a working across party lines, and if you look at a graph of partisan conflict that's risen since 40s and 50s, gradually to levels we have today, well, presidential power has increased at the same time. it's not surprising. when you have -- we now have people elected with a small
majority or minority of the popular vote, and substantial number of voters that feel their interests and concerns are not represented in a politically dominant white house. with had a two-person presidency nearly all voters would have their preferred candidate serving and they would be much more comfort able with initiatives emerging from the executive branch, and there would no longer be this massive diseffective voters who are receptive to a policy of obstruction. now, aren't there other causes of partisan conflict? i'm not -- i don't want to suggest that the imperial presidency is the only cause. there are other factors involved. but even so the argument for a bipartisan executive is strong. if elected officials have strong incentives for whatever reason to act in a highly partisan fashion, we need to have counterincentives to act in a bipartisan fashion in a bipartisan executive would not only address the imperial
presidency factor and also proceed a counterbalance to partisan conflict for any cause. there's another problem with having a -- one-person presidency. it invites poor decisionmaking for the country. here's another area the of the change the founder did not anticipate. the nature of presidential power changed the way the framers saw is, congress about would be the policymaking afternoon the president would be the executor. the executive branch. the president would be an implementer of policy, not a shaper of policy. but the president now has become a major shaper. perhaps the primary creator of policy for our country. and that is not a good idea because when we have policy being made, we want it to be made by multiple people of different perspectives, and a
robust debate, deliberative process. the framers are right. if you have a president who is going to be an executor of policy, yes, you want a decisive person that can act with dispatch but the correctly reserved policymakerring for a deliberative body like congress or the supreme court. wood dry wilson said the whole purpose of democracy is we may hold counsel with one another and not depend on the understanding of one man, good there is much truth in the max jim that two headed-better than one. you look at studies by psychologisties, shared decisionmaking works better than unilateral decisionmaking. it's not hard to find examples of bad unilateral decisionmaking, and i'll pick on george w. bush and his decision to take us into iraq. single decisions can make us make very beside decisions.
if you had two president proves different parties, then they bring different problem-solving porches, and better skills for better decisionmaker, two presidents with different perspectives would make more good choices and fewer bad choices than single president. i understand single presidents don't act in isolation. they consult members of their cabinet and staff so they do enjoy many of the benefits of group decisionmaking. nevertheless there's a big difference between making decisions after -- as opposed to share decisionmaking with the partner who is inclined to challenge their inclinations. an example i like to use to illustrate is imagine the supreme court, we have nine justices, decisionmaking authority, different perspectivetives. if you had one justice, scalia
or ginsburg, who had eight very experienced law clerks, it would be a very different supreme court. and it's not only the two presidents would give us better leadership when there's time for study and deliberation, but even in times for crisis. don't we need single northwestern i don't think that's right. part of the problem is look what happens? when we're in times of crisis, one of the problems of single decisionmakers often act in authoritarian and constitutional ways. during world war ii we had the internment of japanese americans. after 9/11, the torture of suspects of terror. and having a single person making those decisions -- congress and the courts were supposed to check presidential abuses of power, but we have seen historically congress and the courts have not stepped up when they needed to. so having a two-person
bipartisan presidency would give us the kind of internal check on executive branch that we need, precisely in emergencies when other checks are not effective. and two persons -- we don't have to sacrifice rapid decisionmaking. presidents always consult trusted advisers before making decisions. and consider israel. a country that has had to respond to attacks, major threats to national security, and they always convene their cabinet. first a smaller national security cabinet, then the full cabinet, before they decide on their response. in fact some deliberation is good. even in the face of unexpected events and international events. an example i like to use is in 2008, during the presidential campaign, when georgia and russia got in a little war. john mccain immediately condemns russia. barack obama waits a few days to
find out, get more information, and he did so wisely, because it turned out both georgia and russia were at fault. so sometimes acting quickly and decisively can lead to beside decisionmaking. all right. why wouldn't two presidents just bring their partisan conflicts into the white house? would mitt romney and barack obama really cooperate? that's what they framers were talking about. alecer in hamilton talks about multiple presidents, rivalries. it don't thing that would happen. in fact the very good reason to think they'll develop a cooperative relationship. first, they wouldn't have incentives to have conflictual ual don connect newell relationships in tip tall power, sharing settings, each person or different people feel
that by maneuvering and jockeying for power they can establish a dominant position, but in a college presidency i -- coalition presidency i propose no amount of maneuvering or back-stabbing or doing whatever else could lead to a dominant position. no matter what it would be a 50-50 relationship for the current term and after re-election. so there wouldn't be incentive to engage in conflict. more than that there would be a very important incentive to cooperate. when presidents reach the white house, they're at the top of the political ladder. at that point, the primary concern is the legacy. how are they going to go down in the history books? and george w. bush's decision to invade iraq -- when he went in to depose saddam hussein. one of the reasons for this
decisions is that he was influenced by the potential for introducing democratic governance to the arab middle east. if we could set up a democratic government in iraq it would be a model for other countries, and george w. bush's legacy would be transforming a major region of the world. even though, remember during the campaign, he said we shouldn't be engauged in nation-building, but when huh thought about his legacy he was willing to do that. you read the promise, the account of the first year of the obama administration, he talked about the decision, should be do health care or not? and obama'sed a sliders saying do not do health care. what the public wants is you to focus on the economy. unemployment is 10%. that's where you need put your efforts. don't want you being diverted. and what essentially persuaded obama for him to decide i'm doing health care anywhere was his legacy, providing for
greatness, he needed health care, a goal that eluded presidents for a century. so, two members of his coalition presidency spent their terms locking horns they wouldn't be able to have the kind of achievements, establish the kind of record that would have important legacy for the ages. so, that's why i think it would work out. it's not only my fairly educate guess but we have other support. switzerland i like to use as an example. does it work anywhere else? in switzerland they're executive branch they call a federal council, hat seven department heads, and they possess equal decisionmaking authority. there's no first among equals. they really are truly equals. they rotate through the presidency for one year term and the president is pure lay ceremonial position.
and for more than 50 years, the seven council have come from the major political parties. there are now five. they represent about 80% of the vote, and the important thing is these seven people from different parties, different parts of the political spectrum, work cooperatively. and you might say, well, it's suiterland, bullet in fant switzerland hat is own history of political conflict that they had a civil war in the 19th 19th century between catholics and protestantses and they had to mount german, french, italian citizens and that's why they drafted their constitution, was to try to overcome the political conflict that they had experienced, and i -- my view is that because they have their power sharing across different divides, political and other
divides, they have been able to have the kind of society that doesn't have the political conflict we experience. france has also shown that shared decisionmaking can work. theirs is not as institutionalized at switzerland, but when presidents and prime ministers in france come from different parties, normally the president is a dominant political figure. we all know about sarkozy. far fewer people know that francois was his prime minister but when the president and prime minister come from different parties they have -- the french call cohabitation government. so much of the time between 1986 and 2002 they had cohabitation government. the first wag should rack on on -- they worked together reasonably intel the governments were popular. the approval ratings for the cohabitation government were certainly well before what we have for congress, and well
above what our presidents good. tornado like the cohabitation government in all parliamentary systems you tend to have coalition governments, people from different parties working together. now, i know other countries clearly differ in many ways phloem united states, but i don't think there's any rope that elected officials in other countries are less prone to partisan conflict than our officials are. i'm also not claiming that shared power cures all political ills. bosnia have a three-person executive and has not been able to overcome their problems. but their problems go far deeper than the nature of their executive branch. too much -- politics decentralized, serbia and the other republic have too much power and so on. but as political scientist
shugaard and john kerry observed, coalition executives can offer the best possible for resolving conflict in a deeply divided society. one other source of support for my argument. game theory, studies strategic behavior, tries to identify elements of relationships that encourage cooperation as opposed to conflict. and the kinds of relationships, the elements important, are the kinds that would be part of the coalition presidency that i proposed. one is that people -- people have an ongoing relationship. much more likely to cooperate than if it's a one-shot laonship. have a much better relationship with the guy who services my car than the people when i go to buy a car, because pat, my service man, knows i'm coming back, and he does a good job and treats me well. so when i buy a car, they don't
expect to see me back. have an ongoing relationship and frequent interactions with your partner, also encourages cooperation. that would be true about a coalition presidency. most importantly, the coalition president si is -- they'd have some -- be a symmetrical relationship with respect to the amount of power. the willingness of them to cooperate, depends in large part on each possessing exactly half the executive power and no maneuvering could change that symmetry. neither one could gain the upper hand. when you have that that situation where you have little to gain by obstruction, lots to dane by collaboration, we should expect them to collaborate, and it's out of self-interest. i don't assume they're going to do this for the good of the country. it's out of their own self-interest, their own desire for their legacy, and the people
with strong philosophical differences may be surprised. could arc cantor and nancy pelosi really work together? i think they would. and part of this i day my own experience as state representative and watching there and also at the national level. public officials do exhibit quite a bit of flexibility to achieve their political goals. mitt romney, governor of massachusetts, pushes for an individual mandate for health care. presidential candidate opposes the individual mandate for health care. allen specter, a republican, moves the democratic party. my own senator, evan evan bayh, had a pretty liberal voting record. as soon as he decided to run for re-election in the senate he had the most concerntive voting record of any democratic
senator. even our own academic peers. harold coe, critical of president bush pushing executive power. can works for the obama administration and changes his tune and takes positions he harshly criticized when he was outside of the executive branch. so, i think the desire to leave a legacy, and a lot of their statements and -- is posturing much more than true commitment to ideology they can't compromise. so let me conclude by saying that, a two-person presidency may seem radical. for us north so radical for europe. but dysfunctional washington has gotten to the point that radical reform is needed. the alternative to a two-person presidency is even greater partisan conflict and even more
bad presidential decisionmaking. thank you for coming. i look forward to your questions. [applause] >> we will pass around the microphone, raise your hand and we'll take questions. i'd like to start off with one question first. it seems to me there's an assumption that you're making that having presidents from both parties, they'll be able, going back to congress, to kind of lead their party along in congress. and i'm wondering how you -- how likely you view that as being in light of the fact that even speakers of the house sometimes majority leaders in the senate, have a hard time bringing along their own members in their own chambers. how well could this representative of their party in the white house actually end the gridlock that existed within congress itself?
>> very good question. why wouldn't partisan conflict just move to the aisles of capitol hill. and that's important question. here's why i'm not so worried about that. a couple reasons why, i think you'd start to see more cooperation in congress. and let me say i'm not against competition and disagreements. as long as it's on the merits. i still want republican members of congress to advocate for republican ideas and democratic members of congress, but what i'm trying to avoid is the extent to which partisan conflict overtakes legitimate disagreement about the matters. so there's -- about the merits. a few way to do things more on he merits. one is now you have -- let's say romney and obama fashion their healthcare reform or immigration reform or climate change
legislation, and they send a bipartisan proposal to congress. now that there's a bipartisan proposal, if members of congress -- currently when president obama sends his partisan proposal, there's this -- my concern is this massive disaffected voter. 47% of the public voted for mitt romney. 47% of the public doesn't think they have voice in the white house. so their instinct is to say this is not -- this proposal doesn't represent my views, and their instinct is to oppose it. the republican members of congress recognize that and know there's a substantial mass of disaffective voters. if you have a bipartisan proposal, now voters on both sides of the aisle are going to say, that proposal represents my
view. my president negotiated on behalf of me. and i think that members of congress who are going -- might be inclined to obstruct surely for partisan purposes, are not going to find a receptive audience among voters for that. another reason why i think they would be less left-hand to be partisan. as legislator, you can do a lot by passing bills. but you can often do more for your constituent biz helping cut through the red tape, and other hurdles in the bureaucracy. now, if you're a republican today and you call up the executive branch, you're not going to get much help because it's a democratic executive branch. but it's like a bipartisan executive branch they are going to respond to your call. so you have a lot of incentive to have good relationships with the white house, because that's how you help your constituent by
helping them -- they have a problem with the food and drug administration or the department of agriculture, you want to be able to help them. so it really -- not having an audience, public receptive to obstruction, and members of congress having their own personal incentives in terms of helping constituents and getting re-elected, have cordial relations with the executive branch, that would help. >> thank you. we open it up for questions. we'll bring the microphone over to you. >> i guess my question deals with the political process and how we would play with these two presidents. in presidential primaries one of the reasons candidates leak to stay close to the center is because they know they have a general election coming up. but whenow know you're going to be elected president once you win your democratic or republican primary and your on the stage with other guys who are liberal or conservative. the way to distinguish yourself is to move further to the
extreme time and there's no reason to come to the center. so isn't there a problem you have to travel so much more where you were during the primary and all speak special interest groups now need you do stay there. how do cow come back to the center? >> an interesting question. once you make this change it's going to have all kinds of changes. so now in the primary, does it -- as you said the primary voters don't have to think, need to find somebody who is electable in november because decisions will be mostly either side of the election will be decided at the nomination, after the strong third-party candidate. one possibility is the threat of a third-party candidate could keep them moderating things. but in the absence of a third-party candidate, what's going to happen? it's going to change voting patterns, too. right now most people -- a lot of people wait until november.
primary voting turnouts are well below november. we might have 60% in november. you might bet 20%. iowa caucuses don't get 20% of the eligible voter. so now the voter who waits until november and says, i'll have my. say then. can't wait until november and they have to start voting in primaries. so you're going drive a lot of people who don't tend to have strong affiliations to either party to pick one of the parties they're close are to, and that's going to change the primary voting, and -- now, some evidence suggests that general election voters are no more moderate. in fact in primary voters might not be party activists but might not be more moderate. so may not have an effect. others wonder whether the -- in recent years that's changed. so you might get some moderation of the primary voting population. you're right, if it doesn't happen, if you still have the
desire to get the extreme -- i want the person who will advocate and be the best negotiator. candidates are going to recognize that and even if they're a mitt moderate or whatever else they're going to start recognizing they have to position themselves as a conservative or liberal so there will be gaming on both sides. the candidates will say different things, but when the come together, whether you have two people here or two people far -- farther out, they have to move to the middle to get anything done. so i think you'll still end up with the -- the legacy with drive the compromises, and then will they be punished? have to say yes? but of i compromise, i promised them i would vote on their -- stand up interior -- stand up
for their ideals and now i don't have to worry about a challenge. the reason why they won't get the primary challenge is what drives -- what daves the tea isn't that right with the election of president barack obama and the democratic control, and -- because, again, they department have a voice, and so it's hard to kind of mobilize people to throw out an incumbent when they have a voice and the person is speaking on their behalf. i think people understand, this is part of due process, right? but we love to win all the time. but we feel at least we have gotten a hearing, and if my person, who promised to fight hard for me, goes out and fights a good battle and doesn't win all the time, at least we'll feel like we gave it our best shot. so that's why i think the challenges are not likely to be a big threat.
>> i think you used the expression "imperial presidency. " is that right? >> yes. >> okay. so, in farm belowberg, governor walker, barack obama, are all using executive orders to accomplish a lot of what you're talking about. and my question to you is whether you think this is a response to their legislative branch or it's actually a change in how the sort of executive sees themselves? and how that sort of contributes to what you're talking about? >> yeah. we see at all levels this use of executive orders. so we have high levels of partisan conflict can legislate tv bodies incapable of making change. i think it's a combination of
congressional failure, no question that legislative bodies, especially congress, have an pick -- abdicated their responsibilities but i think people in power seek to -- and presidents have. now, why hasn't congress? and there are lots of reasons, and the from framers didn't anticipate the collective action. you have 435 person house and a 100 person senate and individual legislator, increasing the institutional power of the congress, you have to share that with a whole lot of people. so not an effective way to increase your power. with president, anytime you increase your institution's power you increase your own par. so, madison was right and the framers were right about the president was push for greater power. they were wrong about congress.
so we have that imbalance. so combination of a natural tendencies for presidents to try to increase their power, and the courts have not intervened as presidents have acted alone, and president carter's decision to terminate our defense pact with taiwan was challenged in court but the supreme court -- some say it was political question, in -- other procedural grounds but wouldn't reach the merits of it. so, this gets back to what i said earlier. i'm not so sure, given the failure of congress to work effectively, maybe it does make sense to give executive branch more power, but even if that's correct, to give it to one person, from one party and one perspective, that's where it breaks down. if it is true and we have to rely on executive branch more, then we should have more people
having to say. we shouldn't reserve the policymaking power of the executive branch for one party only. especially when it's locked in for four years. at least in a parliamentary system you have a chance to change the government if they head down the wrong path. but we lock our president in for four years, and profoundly unrepresentative. we take one vote on one day, and the majority that wins one vote on one day gets control for four years. thousands of decisions for four years. and justice white said in a redistricting case, when you have a minority that persistently is shut out of the political process, that's not fair. that violates our concept of equal protection.
>> rock the boat question. the president is not the sovereign. the citizens are. my question to you is, where did you get these ideas from? because it's totally different from my perception of reality which is we have an imperial congress and imperial presidency since 1913. >> i mean, the failure of our governments to respond to the voters -- the citizens, there's no question that that has been a serious problem, sort of a washington mentality, the elected officials seem to be captured by the beltway lobbyists and other interest groups. and it is a big problem. but i think it is a big are problem with the president than with congress. just because the president -- because so much power has shifted to the executive office that, yes, congress is not as
responsive as it should be but not as dangerous because it doesn't wield as much of the authority as it could wield. but you're right, our government as a whole isn't as responsive as it should be and that why i think at least if you allow people on both sides of the political aisle to have representation in the white house, it will give us a more representative government than we have today. >> even with the two president system, it seems to me the legislative body is still going to have polarized political parties. so my question is why wouldn't this new proposal of two presidents bring or create more political gridlock if now there's a partisan proposal from the legislators sent to the white house at least one or the other president is going to refuse to sign that particular legislation.
>> well, exactly right. so -- i todd about what happens when presidential initiatives come to congress, they're bipartisan. and in fact one of the realities of our current system is that the president drives the agenda. the model was supposed to be the legislative proposals would be driven more by congress and then come to the white house. but that's really flipped. i don't think that would change so much. so, i still think initiatives would be driven because the extent that congress tries to drive the agenda, they're going to face -- they know they're going to have a democrat and republican or libertarian and democratic, whatever, two people who represent a pretty broad range of voters. so partisan pathway proposals are not going to fare very well and if we want to get something passed, we have to pass something that will satisfy
people on both sides of the aisle. and so, again, it would be futile to send up highly partisan proposals. i talk about bipartisan white house. in the senate, party has a filibuster that gives the minority a voice. that would mean the house is the one branch of our political part of our government that wouldn't -- the bear majority, the peeker and -- you don't have to -- there's no filibuster. might have to worry about your tea party if you're john boehner but don't have to worry about democrats. would also be a good idea to give the minority more of a voice have a filibuster newell the house if know filibusters have a bad reputation, but i tell you, having served as a minority member of a legislature without a filibuster, you are sitting there watching and you're a spectator, and i'm
not -- i think filibusters have an important role in making sure that the minority has a voice. >> one of the incentives you identified was the importance of the executives to send forward bipartisan proposals and the incentive to work together for a legacy. are we assuming there exists a bipartisan legacy item. in the news today, immigration. republicans would not see that as a legacy item. for them it's a political necessity at this point but wouldn't be if they didn't hey to appeal to a greater population. climb change. republicans denied it exists or is manumitted, which means any attempt to curb i would not be a legacy item. universal healthcare would not be legacy item because republicans don't want to force people to buy medical insurance.
aren't we assuming so much in assuming there could be a legacy item that is nonpartisan? >> so, could they really find a common ground for legacy, or is the republicans view of a legacy so different from the democratic view of a legacy you want stand up? i think we would. i think there really is sufficient common grounds because republicans did campaign on universal health care. the difference was how much do we rely on a market, mccain's idea, we should have avoucher, give'em the -- have avoucher and give people the means to buy insurance on the private market. mccain's proposal would have been more of a universal proposal. his would have reached everyone, whereas we end up with 23 million americans, once obamacare is fully implemented, 6% or so, 23 million americans
without healthcare insurance. so, i think legacy means making -- solving problems, whether it's the economy or health care or immigration -- i think what happens is, both will want to solve the same kind of problems when it comes to the budget. the republicans want more spending cuts and the democrats are going to want more tax increases, and i think you would end up with something that is about 50-50, but both of them would want to be the pair that solved the yawning budget gap. so, -- i look at my governor, mitch daniels, who i served under as a republican, and he came in and -- so important for him to change things, to shake things up and -- health care. he pushed an expansion of our
medicaid program. with a cigarette tax increase. my god. that sounds pretty democratic. but he wanted to leave a legacy with health care, and the one thing that made it republican was that it had the health savings account approach. but all the other elements, extending medicaid to include working adults who didn't have kids, and funding with the cigarette tax, that comes out of the democratic play book. so even our new governor, mike pence, who has a republican study group as a member of congress, ultra conservative republican member, has now up sounded a much more moderate tone now that he is governor and wants to leave a legacy. so i think we would actually see a lot of accomplishments and there's sufficient common ground for that to happen. >> just a followon to that point. in addition to the question you
just addressed whether legacies can go bipartisan. can solutions to problems be really bipartisan? can we in fact address climate change adequately, appropriately, through some kind of solution that sort of splits the difference? or do we really need to kind of go all in on one party's vision of the world or not? in other words, would a two-party presidency give us a lowest common denominator set of policies that might not actually be what it really takes to solve healthcare problems or the debt crisis or climate change or any none of other big problem inside. >> that's an interesting question. maybe one side really is right on some issues. i think, as a general matter, that both sides -- there's truth
on each side that the other sid is too slow to recognize and there are excesses on each side that each side is -- they sort of recognize their own excesses and slow to recognize the other side's truths and i think that's what you see when they're going back to the shared decisionmaking order. when you bring in people who address problems with different perspectivetives you get better results than when you leave them with their own perspectives. nobody has a monopoly on the truth and we end up with one side on our current system, one side might be able to push its policy to excess, as we had in the '60s under democrats and the other side can come in and push its policies to excess, which happened under nixon and bush. so that what we would avoid, the excesses on either side, and coming to solutions, because --
i think the times where one side has a monopoly on the truth are rare enough, and i think the losses -- as alexander hamilton said about the veto power, the harm of losing some good policies is much smaller than the benefit of prevents bad policy. and what i worry about the downside. i like to use investment analogies. you never want to put all your eggs in one basket, even if the apple looked like a year or two ago a great place to put all your money but now it's no so good. diversification works better and diversification in political philosophy works well, too. >> we have time for one more question. do we have one up front? >> i'm glad you used the example
from europe because i'm european. i was born in a country with two prime ministers, one from check, and one from slovac part, it was called czechoslovakia and doesn't exist anymore so one way how to compromise is split the country. be a disadvantage i wanted to mention, but from my point of view, european point of view, is that the lexes in -- elections in the u.s. are too often expensive, and it's maybe easier solution just to give a budget ceiling for the elections. so if you're a member of the congress and you want to be re-elected you need strong statements, you need quick, strong tweets. so it's maybe easier to compromise when you have four years, four full years and not just two years and then the primaries start and so on. so my question is, wouldn't be easier to just change the
election system in the u.s. than having two presidents? >> so, good questions. one is, when you have shared politics tend to break down. it's very important to structure it, single executive can be disasters, as many countries in africa and south america, eastern europe learned. and shared governing can break down, too. so it's important to structure in a way that there aren't incentives because if you have escape options and you can leave behind your shared roll and become a dominant person, you're right. people will try to become dominant and get all the power. so it's critical to structure in a way it's always 50 5, and no way to escape. the other part about elections. they're horrible, yes. too much money and too much posturing, and i think this would be a better solution than
the alternative, because of imperial presidency, the high stakes of the election, people -- there's this tremendous incentive to pour hundreds of millions of billions. that's exactly the right response when you have so much at stake, and as long as you have that much as stake people are going to find a way to spend money. we see one reform after another. so we limit how much you can contribute to a candidate, so you contribute to a committee. if you limit how much you can contribute to a committee, you'll set set up your own persl committee and won't just -- just run it out of your own business and home, and if we say you can't run ads, does the guy who did the book, and the movie, the documentary on hillary clinton, the money will find a way. if -- now, if you have a bipartisan presidency, and you know the power is going to be shared, right? what are you going to gain out of spending all that money on the election?
you can change which democrat or which republican, but if you know there's always going to be a democrat and republican or third party, whatever, the power is going to be shared, you just can't ininfluence. ...
to consider improving the political process in the united states. i hope everyone join me in thanking professor or liquor for a two-day seminar. [applause] >> thank you all for coming in for c-span for coming, too. [inaudible conversations] >> at the siegel man in the back
because i read over it and it's not that i have any personal friendship, but i'm just saying i didn't do it out of a note on siegelman. i've read the book mr. chairman in prison and tried for the life of me. i read what he did and he was just acting. the siegelman case is interesting because the fact they refused to give information. [inaudible conversations] acquires abramoff was involved.
[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] you see coming siegel man wanted to legalize gambling in the door appeared they wanted people -- [inaudible] the other thing is the second
judge. [inaudible conversations] service goes to the heart of the question. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
>> when i got out of morgantown federal prison, three lovely be referred to in our family is the bush housing program at edtime, i did something i swore i wouldn't do, which was to listen to alan rat are telling me i needed to the radio. i said i don't eat anything public. i need to be quiet and sit around a little bit. you have some experiences and knowledge are working history of the politics and government, so do it. the first show we did, alan did it with me. of course i knew tom harkin was. and it doesn't matter be classified. he spared and he knows journalism. ethan accomplished author and other fields that had been interested to see some of this book. so i was little nervous that we did the show. they really went well and i
continue to do the whole radio gig. a longtime friend hartmann wrote. that is the interesting thing to do, but after a while i didn't like doing "the daily show" come as a continued talk radio, which i do to this day and i ventured over to india for a little bit. what you do when you have to recharge your batteries? to go to india. either chuck turner is delighted to write code incredible india. i stayed about five or seven minute walk from the dalai lama's resident and it's a mixture of the indians are tibetans of the day. fascinating place. it provided me the opportunity to read the book because i was able to go for a couple months and then come back. in between watching my granddaughter is a 12 step recovery program with the
assistance the assistance i do for some people, i was able to read this book and her editor, sherry johnson was absolutely amazing. changing my spare spirit never thought i'd do a book, but my cousin, god rest his soul, francis wallace always told the republicans, equaling the freeze the gipper. ronald reagan, that was his successful movie. but my cousin always told me, you need to write a book. i just never thought i'd rate this one i read it this way. so i put a lot of thought into it. didn't do the book affairs. i outlined that in here. then i did 60 minutes of my former chief of staff and neil and i agreed to the 60 minutes together. this ever going to have jack abramoff on 60 minutes and neil and india.
it is better to have the two of us. it shows more of an honesty fact your if i see this coming could say no, bob, or vice versa. in my opinion, the two side-by-side with the battery to do that. i went to india for a one-month trip and saw 60 minutes over there. when i saw it i watched jack abramoff. jack did not do this to me. i did this myself. i made those decisions. i watched jack abramoff on 60 minutes and feel of the year in prison. i feel empathy for anybody that don't time. beyond that, i wondered where jack was going with his version of history. and when i heard him say he had 100 members is that i got the short end of that stick of the money i guess.
but i sat there in all seriousness them but i want to tell my end of it. i know the headlines are speaker bono misspoke, but i wanted to make it more than that. i told the story of abramoff because i get asked constantly by former constituents. they fill up an ohio appeared in the district and i get asked all the time, would have been to you? this book tells a complicated story. it's not as easy as having dinners, going to scotland any rate. it's a complicated story rahab my part in there some other parts to it. the perfect storm is the way i put together the outside influences that came into the idiocy i created and committed. also very important to me and i want to mention this mek because it deals with the rain on the opportunity was missed as a country to potentially have a
deal, would have disbanded hezbollah. i think the deal to the white house and they choose to ignore it and maybe to be different. i wanted to see the mek which the terrorists and their recently delisted and made legitimate so i wanted to mention that because it's important and international basis and i was part of that. the other part is morgantown federal prison. i wanted to the prison site, which was very challenging, very fascinating. i sat at a high profile person who i first met in the back of the anteroom in the finance committee, the banking committee where i was in handcuffs. congressman mike oxley, the chairman said removed the handcuffs from the man. he said we can't do that. you will hear and they did. that's how i met the first time.
the second time i was headed to prison. as a self reporter, which is like reporting for your own battalions clawed. allen said he got to meet webb hubbell. i sat here in washington d.c. i don't know how many hours. three, four, five, i forget and he walked me through how you survive from day one and that is the best amount of time span. he also gave me insight as a former chief justice of the arkansas supreme court who went to prison and he was very empathetic to the plight of a lot of people in prison. i think i was a former congressman. i liked out of there feeling a bond with a lot of people and they need to tell that in this book and i have because things go on inside those walls. that and expect anybody to have sympathy for me. i have the ability to have a network.
the ability to stand here tonight coming to be on television, how writers for 3-d on the print media and i can write a book. we're warehousing human beings. the current administration has statistics to hear about the big drug dealers today. the white collar criminals in the drug offenders. there's a lot of addicts in prison. they become a statistic drug unit was put away. they're getting treatment and they need to have it. the other part is my own personal struggle been in recovery with addiction. i have a message in this book and i stayed in the beginning that you don't have to be in politics than these substances to make your life go down. it can happen to anybody. i don't care what you do interlace profession, a
reporter, whatever you are coming you can ingest substances and to your body and lose your focus. you cannot pay attention to richard do not go down the path that will cause your personal problems. to recover information is important in this book. a couple of funny stories about the congress, which both sides of the aisle in this book come a few funny stories tall shot this section on congressional spouses, which is pretty nice, but they kind of run things, let's face it. i came to the conclusion that the. i felt compelled to and i conclusion this is the barrel so corrupt. jack abram off and our staffs was the biggest scandal of its time, et cetera. to what week it has been codified into a legal situation
today. if i'm a lobbyist, i can take you on team. i can take you to vegas. some republicans went to a bondage club. at least they're getting a little personality. either cited the aisle can do this. citizens united. i five john mccain toys. his worthless as it was back then. you could drive a mack truck through them. at the end of the day was citizens united's ruling and the lack of a true campaign finance reform bill at that time coming of the situation today where super pac comes along and we can pick on karl rove or george soros, whichever side of the aisle you want to skewer. they go after people. in order to counter that means
$3 million, 10,000 a day after the race. they get on the telephone. to the dccc or the rcc. that doesn't mean we've got that members. i promise to many members of congress of the mr. change, too. many members of congress do not find it delightful. so there's a lot of good members. i want to make you think and say there isn't. that comes to the conclusion the barrel is so corrupt. jack abramoff and i go away and stop people with felonies didn't change anything. to my dismay people feel more comfortable, but it didn't change things. i ended it with a quote i really like basically to paraphrase, i had an addiction and today there's another a